Saddleback College dance students performed for family, friends and dance enthusiasts in the dance department’s annual WinterDance. Ten routines consisting of modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop, African, ballroom, ballet and contemporary filled the evening program.
The production took place over the course of three days from Thursday, Nov. 15 to Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the McKinney Theatre.
Diedre Cavazzi, dance department chair/artistic director of the show, who also choreographed two numbers, said Saddleback Dance faculty and guest artists choreographed the WinterDance concert routines. Dance Department faculty include Sharon Rest Haas, Marji Himes, Jewel Jackson, Noelle Snavely, Darlisa Wajiid-Ali and Lacey Yell.
“I loved seeing the students on stage and it’s always exciting to get to share it with the community,” Cavazzi said. “ It’s a wonderful thing.”
A student performs barefoot while dancing an African style number for “Celebration of Life” (photo courtesy of Brittany Lockhart)
Students rehearsed weekly since August for this weekends performance. Auditions for the production took place the first week of school. Student dancers, ranging from beginner to advanced, were all encouraged to audition and perform in the November show.
“It felt good, obviously tiring, but it was nice to finally be on stage and let go,” said communications and dance major Alena Mikula.
She performed in four dances including modern, ballet, jazz and hip-hop.
A jazz dance student reaches in her pose for “Pour Some Sugar On Me” piece. (photo courtesy of Brittany Lockhart)
The jazz number titled “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is a high-energy dance choreographed by Marji Himes. Music included “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Tom Cruise, and “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” by Rock of Ages. Mikula especially loved performing the jazz routine. Her jazz teacher/choreographer really had an influence on her as a student.
“I would probably say jazz because I am really close with the teacher and she’s made it like really fun, and I’ve been out of dance for like a year, so it was really nice to be back with like a second mom,” Mikula said.
Dancers wowed the audience with leg holds, pirouettes and leaps. The dance students even turned it up by doing difficult techniques of illusions, splits and turns in second, all while wearing ripped blue jeans and combat boots.
Although dancers make it look easy, it takes many hours of practice, commitment and it can take a toll on their bodies. It is essential dancers take care of themselves.
“I had some hip issues, so definitely making sure my legs were loosened up where I didn’t hurt anything, making sure I was reaching through every part of my body,” Mikula said.
Ballet piece “Reigning Women” provided dancers a chance to mix soft classical ballet with strong contemporary movements. (photo courtesy of Brittany Lockhart)
The ballet in the WinterDance show included eight dance students wore burgundy leotards with long flowing chiffon material, soft-hair and wreaths on their heads as they portrayed a royal like dance. Sharon Rest Haas choreographed the piece with the help of two student choreographers Kaitlin Coviello and Alena Mikula.
The ballerinas made pique, pirouette, and chaines turns across the floor and came together as a group creating large formations. The audience experienced a surprise in music as it changed part way through the dance from “Serenade” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to “Scotland” by The Lumineers.
“The end of Act 1, ‘Reigning Women’ the ballet,” Cavazzi said. “That was definitely about the strength of women, but also about looking at the power struggles and navigating different dynamics between relationships and power.”
Modern dance piece “Forward” opened the WinterDance concert. (photo courtesy of Deidre Cavazzi)
Modern/contemporary dances comprised four out of 10 pieces. Cavazzi said that the styles are popular and when students transfer to a university, it is important that they have understanding and experience. She stresses that they will need a strong background in ballet and jazz as well.
Cavazzi emphasizes the need for students to be well-rounded in all different styles of dance. Saddleback College offers a range of classes with different genres. Many dance students are becoming aware of the importance and relevance of modern and contemporary dance forms.
“Modern definitely is on the rise, especially here at Saddleback,” Mikula said. “We have a lot of amazing modern teachers and a lot of guest artists that love to come in and place modern and contemporary dances on us because we do really thrive in that, it’s a huge part of the dance community right now, so it’s really nice to get even more practice.”
“WaveForm” allowed dancers to create giant waves through the use of choreography. (photo courtesy of Brittany Lockhart)
Cavazzi choreographed the contemporary piece titled “Waveform” and the piece was inspired by a summer trip she took. Dancers wore ocean blue, lavender, teal, aqua and other ocean toned costumes while they swayed, jumped and moved their bodies to resemble crashing waves in the sea.
“Waveform was about the ocean and the waves moving,” said dance student Zachary Mittleman. “That was actually inspired when our choreographer went to Antarctica. She went on a cruise, and they went down there and that music was recorded from actual waves down in the Arctic.”
Many of the dances sent a more significant message with topics including droughts, gender roles and mental health. “Paani”, “Event Horizon” and “Two Can Do That Tango” all told a bigger story by tackling social issues.
“Paani, which was the fourth piece in the concert was about drought and water shortages. And she used a West Indian vocabulary mixed with contemporary dance to tell that. And I think that’s really, really powerful,” Cavazzi said.
“Paani” choreographed by Darlisa Wajid-Ali consisted of a group of three dancers who used props, costumes and acting as they used quick movements, big arm movements and yoga poses tell a story. A bowl was the centerpiece of the dance and the use of thunder and rain sound effects made the performance come to life.
“I thought “Event Horizon”, which opened Act 2, was a favorite. I was very invested in it, I wanted to watch the whole thing, and there was a lot of things happening at once, but it was very cohesive at the same time, and it was really cool to watch.” Rachel Bluegrind, musical theatre major/dance student said.
The audience clapped especially loud for the last two performances of the evening performed to an upbeat tap piece titled “On the Brink” and a tango.
A playful and humorous piece “Two Can Do That Tango” intrigued the audience with thoughtful costuming. (photo courtesy of Brittany Lockhart)
The last piece was called “Two Can Do That Tango” and it was a traditional tango, and half our body was a man and half our body was a woman,” Mittleman said. “We stood profile the entire time, and you were either a man or a woman, we never faced the audience at the same time.” Mittleman, student dancer, said.
Choreographer Noelle Snavely drew inspiration from Pixar short “Lorenzo” a cat who dances the tango with himself and his tail. Throughout “Two Can Do That Tango” women and men flirted, teased and fought playfully with each other causing an uproar of audience responses and laughs, Mittleman said.
Cavazzi complemented Snavely on her work with this dance and said he wanted it to close the show.
“Not only did those dancers really succeed with the tango and the cha-cha and all of these different vocabularies for Latin and social dances, but they were so fabulous at really playing up that expressivity of the gender roles in the piece. And I thought that was just a tremendously creative piece and I thought the students did a great job, I thought Noelle did an amazing job with the choreography.”
Tap dancers shuffled and tapped their hearts out on “On the Brink”. (photo courtesy of Brittany Lockhart)
Tap number, “On the Brink” another audience favorite, received big applause for its heart with it’s stand out song lyric “I found love where it wasn’t supposed to be, right in front of me” from Found by Amber Run. The tappers- all shapes and sizes, different ethnicities and genders, and varying dance levels, all smiled as they danced in unison on stage.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see even from the first rehearsal, to the middle of the semester, to the start of this week, tech rehearsals and dress rehearsals, to now- how much these pieces grow and how much the dancers really inhabit those roles and just how fully they filled them as beautiful expressive, passionate dancers,” Cavazzi said. “So, it’s always just an incredible treat to see.”
The Dance Department’s upcoming dance productions take place in the McKinney Theatre in 2018 and include “Ice Memory” February 9 to February 10 at 7:30 p.m. and the student choreographed “Dance Collective” April 19 to April 21 at 7:30 p.m.